Test Your Skills and Have Some Fun on the Rugby Pitch

Though their sport has a reputation of being tough and physical, the members of Fayetteville’s local rugby club are impressively hospitable.

Club president Jeff Wallitsch, a retired Army command sergeant major, said anyone interested in learning the game can just show up at Westover Recreation Center Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.

“No experience necessary,” he said. “We’ll teach you.”

Not only that, but club members, who played their first matrix match of the season last Saturday on Methodist University’s Sink Field, believe in giving back to the community. The group, for instance, participated in the Sept. 11 Memorial Stair Climb at Segra Stadium and helped raise money for the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.

The club was originally founded in the 1980s on Fort Bragg as the Bragg Rugby Club. Wallitsch said the club is rebranding itself as the Fayetteville Area Rugby Club to include more players. The club currently consists of about 30 men and a few women, but Wallitsch said the group would like to expand to have a junior division.

“We’ve had a lot more civilians coming onboard,” he said.

The club is a nonprofit organization that collects dues from players and also is sponsored by veteran-owned Gaston Brewing Company on Hay Street and Pillar to Post, as well as Fit for Life. The Division III club is part of the Carolina Geographic Rugby Union and plays against 10 other clubs on Saturdays in the fall and spring. The next home match is scheduled for Nov. 6 at Methodist. The public is invited, and admission is free.

Wallitsch, who is 46, first learned the game from Australian and British players.

“It’s the camaraderie and the teamwork that I love,” he said. “It has exposed me to a whole new social circle. It’s a simple game, but it takes a lot of thought. That’s where the rugby IQ comes from.”

Anyone interested in learning more can go to the Bragg Rugby Club Facebook page or just show up for practice.